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Protecting Our Endangered Species

By Staff | Jun 9, 2009

A young family goes out for pizza on Saturday night. A local farmer has his tax return prepared by an experienced accountant. A do-it-yourself carpenter gets supplies from the neighborhood lumberyard. All of these common small-town Iowa experiences have one thing in common. They are on the endangered species list. Iowa’s small businesses are a vital part of the economy, but maybe not for long, unless we do something about it.

A recent study by Iowa State University Extension identified the number one fear of small community residents is the loss of their community’s small businesses. Many small businesses are simply closing up shop with no one to take their place.

Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation is working to create a business climate to help make communities vibrant so that small businesses can remain stable. With nearly 40 percent of family businesses slated to change hands within the next five years, Iowa is full of opportunities for entrepreneurs and hard-workers who wish to be their own boss. Creating a business climate that fosters the transition for business is part of what KCEDC/PACEDC does. Here’s how we work for businesses in Kossuth and Palo Alto Counties:

Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corp. is a Resource:

Business owners, large and small, are people trying to make a living selling products and services, hiring workers and marketing their products. Kossuth/Palo Alto Co. Economic Development Corp. is a resource of information for government programs, revolving loan funds and grants. Business expansions such as Snap On, Poet’s Project Liberty, Pharmacists Mutual, Architectural Arts, Pioneer, Country Maid, Global Ethanol and Easy Energy Systems have been made possible with assistance from Kossuth/Palo Alto Co. Economic Development.

Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corp. is Developing a Future Workforce:

Small businesses make up more than 95% of rural Iowa business and play a key role in keeping communities healthy and vital. However, these small businesses are endangered because Iowa’s graying business owners don’t have someone to take-over their business when they’re gone. Young, vibrant workers are needed to take the reigns and work with emerging technology. KCEDC/PACEDC is planning to meet the challenges of economic development. We have focused on establishing a proactive and strong organization. As strong counties with many unique offerings, such as cutting edge technology, high speed internet connections, extensive health care options, exceptional school systems and central location to several major cities, Kossuth and Palo Alto Counties are a smart and convenient fit for many new and existing businesses who may be starting up or looking to relocate. Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corp. is working to enhance the current communication to these prospective businesses by developing tools to use in marketing both counties.

Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corp. Is Business Development:

KCEDC/PACEDC supports existing industry with hands-on and technical assistance with state and regional programs and with the Revolving Loan Fund.

The Revolving Loan Fund provides a source of financing, which may not otherwise be available within the county, for local, expanding, or start-up businesses. The Palo Alto County Revolving Loan Fund has just been established with the application available on our website at www.paloaltoiowa.com. New business start-ups are already inquiring and taking out applications for potential assistance. The Kossuth County Revolving Loan Fund has been in existence since 2003. Businesses that we have had the opportunity to assist include Eyes on Thorington, Diamonds, American Marine, and Eischen Sausage Haus to name a few. The Kossuth County Revolving Loan Fund application can also be found on our website at www.kossuth-edc.com.

Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corp. Brings People Together:

Bringing people together who share the same mindset and goals is a very powerful tool in economic development. Our recent Ag Energy Day is a great example of how KCEDC/PACEDC brings people together to explore the possibilities for economic vitality right here in both counties by sponsoring an event filled with professional resources and examples of the best practices right here in Iowa. Solutions come from ideas, and those ideas come from people working together. Business people need other businesses to keep their stores and companies open. Sometimes a supplier, business partner, lender, or potential new employee may be just down the street. Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development works hard at being that match-maker in forming new business alliances.

As we look at the strength of our counties, business diversity is one of our strengths. This diversity comes from businesses large and small. However, we are reminded that according to the Small Business Administration, Iowa had 64,129 small employers in 2006, representing 97.4% of the state’s employers.

Let’s keep working together to keep Iowa’s small businesses strong and vibrant, and off the endangered species list.